In a world where ignorance is at an all time high, it is time to bring things back in to perspective.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lesson 8.  With God you can do anything.

People who really knew my mother for years can tell you she was a good mother but not always a good Christian. In fact, when I was young she was alcoholic who smoked a lot of cigarettes.  When I was about 6 or 7 years old we joined the church. My mother had a new relationship with God and she stopped drinking.  Years later I asked her how did she stop drinking?  She said, “I asked God to take the taste from her mouth and he did.”  That was powerful to me.  I have worked with people addicted to drugs and alcohol and I know how difficult it can be for them.  I have also had many difficult times in my life.  Even in the most difficult moments I believed that God would bring me through.  He came through every time.
It does not matter if you are facing hard times, trying to face an addiction, or starting a new season of your life with God it is possible.  You must pray and ask God for direction and strength.  Then you must believe that He will deliver.  There is no problem to big or small for God.  With man it is impossible with God all things are possible.  Do not try to out God in a box because He is too big for any box you have.  Trust God and have faith.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lesson 7.  Stand up and be heard

My mother participated in numerous civil rights events.  She picketed Jefferson Bank, was an active member of the Congress of Racial Equality, and protested for affordable housing, and marched for equal rights for all people.  My mother also believed in writing companies, elected officials, and anyone else to inform them of her experiences and opinions of what was right and wrong.  There was no an election that was held in which she did not vote.  She was going to be heard.  Even when she was wrong, she was going to be heard.  
My mother did not tell me about her actions in the Civil Rights movement.  Once I learned all she had done I was proud.  I vowed that day that I would always make sure that I voted.  I don’t care if we are electing a dog catcher I am going to the election booth.  When I think about my mother and those who died for this right did to make this possible I know that I must stand up and be heard.  You must vote.  Every vote does count and elections have consequences. If you are not standing up to be heard then you must accept what happens and do not complain about anything.  Not only is it important to vote but it is even more important that you become an informed voter.  Do not accept everything you hear on the radio and see on television as the truth.  Learn the truth for yourself.  
The other lesson here is the power of the pen.  Whenever I tell my husband about something I don’t think is right he responds, “Are you going to write a letter?”  Absolutely!  I watched my mother write and I have no problem sitting down writing a letter.  As a constituent or customer I will be heard.  I will tell you if your employees are not treating the customer right.  I will tell you if I do not think you are voting in the interest of the people.  I will tell you are neglecting a large market with your products.  I will tell you if I think a $4 charge to spend my money in your bank is ridiculous.  You cannot expect anything to change if no one demands it to change.  I have written numerous letters and received some good responses and stopped patronizing companies who do not respond well.  (Remember it’s the principle).  The point here is that we do not continue to accept bad service, products, or representation by anyone.  Stand up and be heard.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

Lesson 6. It's the principle.  

As I previously stated my mother smoked cigarettes.  I always hated the smell of smoke.  I remember me and her friend begged her to stop smoking.  We kept telling her this can kill you (we were right).  She did not really listen to us.  
The day they announced that the price of cigarettes was going up to 75¢ my mother said she was going to quit smoking. My mother did not smoke another cigarette.  After smoking since she was 12 years old she quit cold turkey with no type of smoking cessation program.  She said she was not going to pay 75¢ for a pack of cigarettes.  It was the principle.  I think my mother would flip four times if she knew how much cigarettes cost now.  
Loretta Hall was truly a woman of principle.  There are several stories I could share about her and her principles, some funny others not so much.  Nevertheless, she did teach me the importance of having principles and keeping your principles.  I have definitely adopted some of her strong will in sticking to your principles.  For example, anyone who knows me well knows that I do not watch a certain television station because of the negative images they have consistently portrayed of African Americans.  I stopped watching this channel probably about ten years ago.  Although there have been some things I heard advertised I thought I may watch, I will not watch this channel.  It’s the principle.  
Unfortunately, our society has gotten away from the importance of principles.  We now go with what is easy instead of what is right.  If we do not instill in our children the importance of principles we will have another generation repeating this mistake.  As Malcolm X said, “If you do not stand for something you will fall for anything.” Whatever you believe in, stick to your principles.  Do not waiver just to go with the masses because there are many people who end up with a lot of troubles following the masses.  Don’t be a carbon copy of everyone else be the original you.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lesson 5. Family is important.

My mother was the matriarch of our family. My house was the house everybody gathered, dropped their kids off and crashed on the floor when necessary.  Until I became an adult I was surrounded by family constantly.  My mother always tried to support everyone in whatever they were doing.  If it was helping someone win a queen contest, driving them to an event or speaking on their behalf to make sure they received the necessary support for a good education she was there. Family for my mother was more than those related by blood.  It was friends who supported her in everything and she returned the support.  This is why I grew up with way more aunts and cousins than we had listed on our family tree. I saw my mother do just as much for those not related by blood as she did for those who were.  
We live in a society where the “family” has been spread throughout the world.  Until this year when we made a conscious effort to see each other, I had not seen some of my cousins in five years.  It seems crazy that the people I spent every day of my childhood with I hardly ever see anymore.  Since I do not see my related family on a regular basis my friends have become my family.  It then becomes important to support and help each other because sometimes in a crisis situation they may be the only ones who can help you.  
It is important to remember that family is dynamic and thus, constantly changing. The make-up of your family will not only change by births, deaths and marriages, but also by, job changes, moves and your kid’s activities.  Family is your support system.  John Donne’s statement, “No man is an island,” is true.  We all need someone and if we support each other it makes it easier.
The other lesson in this is that you must make time for your family.  Many of us work very long hours and are constantly on the move sacrificing time with our family.  Our careers are important, but our family is more important.  You must strive for balance to make sure you are not short changing your children or yourself.  
My daughter will be 2 in July and it has gone by so quickly.  I can only imagine how the rest of the years will go if I am here to see them all.  Please realize that your children will only be this age once.  These are years you cannot get back.  Make time for your children.  Make time for all of your family because no one is promised tomorrow.  I constantly say that I cannot let my employer kill me.  If I die they will hand my laptop to the next person and my family will suffer.  When we reach the end of our life, hopefully we will have a chance to remember our years.  I pray that you have many memories of you and your family together because those will be the ones that really matter.  If you have a work laptop or not at this point it will be of no importance.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lesson 4. Don't be cheap to yourself.

I will be the first one to tell you that I like nice things.  I always have.  I asked for a Gucci purse when I was in the third grade which is not a typical request of an 8 year old.  My mother provided my brother and me the best and we usually received whatever we asked of her.  My mother made many sacrifices in order to provide us with all of these requests.  However, there were many times when she made sure she received nice things.  My love for designer handbags did not come out of the air.  She purchased several for herself.  She loved to shop and that is where we spent some of our best times together.  Parents (Mothers especially) must sacrifice for their kids.  However, we must not deny ourselves of everything in a quest to provide the best for our kids.  It is okay for you to buy yourself something nice occasionally.  You work hard and you deserve this.  
Outside of the designer clothing and handbags my mother always made a point to purchase quality items.  Whether it was fruit juice or a car she wanted to make sure it was something of quality.  I recognize that times are difficult financially for us all and there is a need to tighten our budgets.  There are several ways of saving money.  I am a coupon queen and do not go to the store without my coupons.  What we should not do is think that the least expensive thing is the best option or the only option. You can purchase things that are not the most expensive without sacrificing quality.  
Most people usually have certain things that they will pay a higher price for to achieve the quality they want.   For me, I will not buy cheap toilet paper in order to save a buck or two.  I will admit it is hard for me to understand people who buy cheap toilet paper because I think you end up using more toilet paper so you really don’t save any money.  For you it may be shoes, electronics, or particular brand of something.  As I stated, most people have something.  If you do or do not have something, take a personal inventory and see if you are being cheap to yourself.  You are worth more.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Make your health a priority

Lesson 3. Make your health a priority.

I remember coming home from my first semester of law school.  I was exhausted but so happy to be home.  I sat around with family and we talked and laughed for hours.  As the evening progressed, everyone left and it was just me and my mother watching television.  She looked at me and whispered, “I’ve got cancer.”  In my mind my mother was everything to me.  She was the sole provider for me and my brother, the backbone of our family and a helping hand for many others.  I could not comprehend how any of us would make it without her.  

As I sat there in shock numerous questions ran through my head.  Why was she whispering?  Was I the only one who knew? What are we going to do?  My mother sat calmly and answered these questions and many more.  After a year of chemotherapy and remission the cancer returned.  My mother died on December 21, 1999.

After her death I replayed many times we had together in my head.  I remembered her saying to me several months prior that her breast did not look right.  I believe that my mother knew she had cancer long before the doctor told her.  She did not go to the doctor for regular check-ups.  She was always too busy doing this, helping that person, going to a meeting and she did not make time for her own health.  My mother had rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, bunions and breast cancer.  However, it was not until each of things became a serious problem for her that she addressed them.  She literally had to be hospitalized for diabetes for her to deal with that health issue.  Unfortunately, this is not a story I have about how my mother displayed these great acts or characteristics.  This is about me learning from her mistake and hopefully helping you do the same.  

As I became a woman I realized that my mother did not talk to me about going to the gynecologist to get check-ups.  I learned about this from my friend.  If it was not for my friend I could have probably would not have known the importance of regularly check-ups.  These check-ups have helped me prevent minor issues from turning into major issues.

We are all busy people.  Nonetheless, we tend to make time for things that are important to us.  You must make time for you.  Your health is very important.  I remember a judge always telling parents in Family Court that when you are on an airplane they tell you in case of an emergency to put your mask on first.  You cannot help anyone until you help yourself.  This is another area where women tend to have a problem.  They are so busy making sure everyone else is okay that they neglect themselves.  If you really want to make sure everyone is okay you must work to stay around to see for yourself.  Take care of you.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lesson 2. Do it because you want to help.

Do it because you want to help not for any reward or accolades.   After my mother died in 1999 I can recall my family moving and having so many boxes of my mother’s belongings.  There were several boxes with awards and certificates from different professional and community organizations.  Many of these awards I never knew she received.  She also had many more in boxes and drawers at her office.  My mother did whatever needed to be done.  Many people recognized her hard work and appreciated her, but many did not.  This did not matter to her.  She did not help people for recognition.  Her actions were based solely on her true desire to help people.     If you are really trying to help people your true motive should be the honest desire to help.  Do not do anything just to receive recognition, reward or accolades.  When you are working hard to help people in any situation if no one ever knows you did whatever you did it should not matter.  The only thing that matters is that it is done.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lesson 1

1. Don't ask anyone to do something you wouldn't do yourself.   My mother worked tirelessly in our community.  I do not mean just sitting at her desk working late hours.  Whatever needed to be done she would see that it was done.  You would see her cleaning, cooking, washing, writing proposals, driving the elderly to the grocery store and holding babies in the day care.  One day she was scrubbing graffiti off of the walls.  My uncle was asked, “Loretta, why are you doing that?  Somebody else could do that.”  She responded, “Don’t ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.”   My mother was considered the boss.  She had many people in numerous positions reporting to her, but that did not matter to her.  She believed that there is no position too low for anyone.  If you are going to ask someone to do something then you must be willing to do it yourself.     This is a valuable lesson for me.  So many times we see people get degrees, promotions and positions and they begin to think they are too important to do some of the “small” things.  We want these things done but we aren’t willing to do them ourselves.  Although it may be things that you may not have to do, please do not confuse this with things you are not willing to do.  The only thing beneath you is your feet.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Things my mother taught me

I loved my mother dearly.  She was a strong black woman who loved her family and her community.  After reflecting on many events that occurred throughout her life I realized there were many valuable lessons.  These are lessons we need to be sure to teach our children maybe even ourselves. Over the next 8 days I will share these lessons with you and hopefully I can help somebody.